Although not without his imitators, David Lynch is a singular cinematic force.
Fans of the cult figure were overwhelmed with the magnificent return of popular television series Twin Peaks last year. The show ran from 1989 to 1991, and continued to build a following even when it was cancelled. Lynch even directed a prequel feature, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, which was critically misunderstood in 1992, but has since undergone a critical reappraisal, particularly from UK film critic Mark Kermode, who now considers it to be the surrealist’s true masterpiece. It was very different from the television series, and viewers should have known from the film’s opening: a television being smashed, urging us to forget what we know. This was a much darker tale.
Lynch is known for telling such tales, and we have been fascinated by them since his directorial feature-debut Eraserhead in 1977. The film is a certified cult-classic, and remains one of the most nightmarish features of the seventies. He later went on to sculpt more movie masterpieces, such as Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway and Inland Empire, the last of which may be his most intriguing effort to date, fuelled by the fact that it may be his final film.
'Inland Empire' Premiere In Paris, France On February 05, 2007 - David Lynch.
The maverick is an artist, musician, producer, but above all he is a filmmaker, and one of the most accomplished. His style is profoundly unique, and he is an auteur by the very definition of the word. His greatest film remains 2001’s Mulholland Drive, of which was recently voted the best film of the century in a BBC poll. However, his most mysterious and puzzling would have to be 2006’s Inland Empire. Lynch hasn’t made a feature film since, and it’s highly unlikely that he ever will.
Filmed on digital, the director had absolute freedom to do whatever he pleased, more so than ever before. There were no restrictions, and this absolutely shows in the final film. It’s terrifying, ambiguous, haunting, and a defining masterwork. Inland Empire feels like the culmination of a career, and a farewell to filmmaking. If it does in fact remain his last feature, then it is certainly worthy of the man’s great legacy; uncompromised and limitless. He has always said that he would love to continue with Twin Peaks before retirement, and now that he has done so, it would be wise to conclude that he feels he has done enough for cinema, and rightly so.
David Lynch walks the red carpet during the 12th Rome Film Fest at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on November 4, 2017 in Rome, Italy.
In the 2016 documentary David Lynch: The Art Life, we were permitted to spend intimate time with him, looking at him through the lens of his art. He is a man that most could listen to for hours on end, and there is a confidence and deep satisfaction is his ability that remains so inspiring to us all. He has recently been enjoying his creativity in different ways, and most would agree that he has done more for the realm of entertainment than any of his contemporaries. Of course, it would never be discouraged for Lynch to return to the director’s chair for another feature, but it isn’t imperative.
Inland Empire feels like a final film, and analysis of it will only become more interesting as the years go by; as was the case for Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. With a filmmaker like Lynch, the possibilities are endless, and any news of his career is sure to result in intrigue nonetheless.
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